Do you know of a former minister or even a former “Apostolic” Minister who now preachers a watered down version of truth? Chances are you do. When I considered all those who used to preach the gospel but have walked away from Apostolic ministry, I was amazed at the number. If this is your label, God isn’t finished with you. God is able to restore if we sincerely repent. Just because you failed or quit doesn’t mean that you will never again serve the Lord. You have a choice concerning your future. Stay where you are or get up and start serving God from where you are.
When you don’t know what to do, do what you know to do. While I believe you can be restored, the purpose of this article targets prevention.
To avoid washing out of Apostolic Ministry, here’s 10 things to do:
1. Get some rest. Take some time off regularly without feeling guilty about it. During this time, resist the powerful temptation to make phone calls and email or fix problems involving the church. Rest your mind, body & ministry. Contrary to some theories, reading does help restore your thought and cognitive processes. Pick up a biography, leadership book or even a fictional novel. New ideas and concepts invigorate and energize your mind.
2. Include your family in the excitement of ministry. Many preachers have felt the tug of war between family and work of God because they exist in two different worlds. When you discuss the church and work of God, use positive words. Your family can’t see the joy of ministry if all they hear is the negative of ministry. Frequently say “Isn’t it awesome that Daddy is a preacher?”, “Working for God is the coolest thing to do with your life”, “It’s fun working for Jesus” and “I love working in ministry, don’t you?”
3. Develop a prayer life. It is entirely possible to work as a preacher and not regularly pray…don’t get caught in this trap. Develop a prayer life. If you have a productive day of knocking tasks off your “to-do” list and forgot to pray…you have failed. On the same token, if you didn’t get much accomplished but you took time to pray you have recorded a success in the record book of eternity.
4. Protect your morality with a vengeance. Never meet with a person of the opposite sex without a witness present. (Assuming you are male) When you email someone, include your wife in the cc (carbon copy) list not in the bcc (blind carbon copy) list. You want the recipient to know that your spouse will be privy to any and all information. Spouses should treat this information with respect and extreme privacy. You could destroy your husband’s ministry with careless gossip. Never reveal a conversation without checking with your spouse. You do not want him blindsided if the confidential information gets out. There’s rarely a need for things to be repeated outside of the confidence of the pastor. We must learn to forgive and pretend it never happened. Church should be a safe place to fail without the fear of embarrassment. Ministry leadership is built on trust. Be a good steward of the trust of the people. If your marriage is in trouble, keep it in the bubble. Don’t share your frustration with anyone outside of an agreed confidential source. Take time off to work on your marriage. You do not need a special occasion to invest in your marriage. Unlike anyone else in the church, your relationship with your spouse could effect the eternity of many trusting people. Too many ex-apostolic saints blame the break-up of a pastor’s home for their walking away from God.
5. Never settle for dead church, “getting by” or “making due”.Summertime and the holidays are notorious for travel by the saints. Almost every week you will have someone out of town or getting ready to leave. It’s easy to become frustrated with the attitude of people who seem to live in a constant state vacation and excuses. Don’t allow a few unfaithful people to frustrate your ministry to the faithful. People will miss. People will have good times and bad times. People will have times of feeling overwhelmed and giving up. Be patient with people. If they continue to get back up eventually they will outgrow some of these bad habits. It seems that the longer some saints have lived for God the less “spiritual-bipolar” they are. When there’s absolutely every reason in the world to expect a low-attended or dead service push for a breakthrough. Never give into the temptation to “just get it over with”. Some of our greatest victories have occurred when we thought it would be a down service. It also is great promotion for those who miss, when they hear about something great happening at church. People in our congregation hate to miss for that reason. I do too. I train our service leaders to (a) Promote worship (b) Acknowledge that the service is tight or dead and (c) lead the people into a breakthrough. Eventually they will forget what normal (dead church) is like.
6. Dream big, get a plan and be strategic. Write out what you would like to see happen in your church in the next 10 years and promote it among the church. Every year around the first of January I cast vision for that year. I read off about 30 big things that we will do before the end of the year. I also cast vision for the future. Make sure your plan includes developing the people. Cast big vision for something that no one could do on their own. Every individual longs to accomplish big things with their lives. Help them to do this. Be realistic, think in terms of steps. For example, if you are wanting to license ministers, first establish a ministers class. Nourish and cultivate any potential in ministry. Teach your ministers leadership material. Kill programs that have outlived their usefulness by introducing something “bigger and better”. Never put something into leadership until you have given them a clear list of requirements and expectations (that you are willing to enforce).
7. Make things simple. If you cannot describe your process of becoming an engaged member of your church then how do you expect anyone else to remember. What are your “true” requirements for membership. Do your people know what they are? How often do you mention them? How often do you enforce them. Remember requirements that are not enforced are simply “suggestions”. Do your guests know where to go and what to do to go to the next level at your church? Establish a place where all their questions can be answered (ie. membership table or guest relations kiosk). Do you assume that everyone knows the following words and phrases: altar call, Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues, Acts 2:38, tithing, praying through, membership, worship, faith, baptism, etc…
8. Pastor, get a pastor! If you are sitting under a pastor this point is not for you. You already have an authority. If you do not trust him, LEAVE. If you do trust him do not go outside his ministry for counsel without his approval. If you are a pastor, find someone that will be honest with you and stay in contact with them regularly. Submit yourself to their authority and ministry. If they say “jump” don’t say “why”…say…”off what”? I would recommend finding several apostolic men that you trust. These preachers must not be “given to change”.
9. Be Apostolic. Too many ministers have heard the siren call of “cheesy & greasy church” and have been won over by the numbers, money and easy commitment. When Jesus said “take up your cross daily” he wasn’t talking about jewelry. Ministry is supposed to be difficult at times. If you never run head first into Satan it could be that you are headed in the same direction. There’s something sad and tragic about those who leave the apostolic truths that they have been raised with. It’s almost always a slow fade done in the name of evangelism. One day you wake up and realize there’s not much difference between you and the majority of the “church world”. God has called us to separation from, the world, but that separation is also UNTO HIM. You will never give up anything that God does not reward you with a closer walk with Him. The last day compromising “Apostate Church” would be a popular wide & easy road. Few will choose the right (more difficult) path…be one of the few.
10. Stay Positive. In ten years of evangelizing I met a lot of ministers who were poisoned masses of negativity. It seems to effect ministers in two primary ways: bitterness and discouragement. Opportunities for bitterness never cease and there’s no greater distraction for a minister than anger. Here’s some basic truths: You will be done wrong. You will be done wrong by other ministers and people in your church. You will be done wrong by people you help the most. You will be done wrong by your organization (whatever one that is). People will judge you, talk about you, slander you and even work to destabilize you. Remember, they did the same thing to Jesus and your ministry isn’t any better than His. Remember, God has been too good to you and brought you through too much for you allow bitterness to take root in your spirit. If certain friends consistently pull you down with negative or angry talk, change the talk or change the friends. The second “Goliath” of a preacher’s spirit is discouragement. One of my mentors Bro Johnny Godair told me several times, “Remember in regards to church momentum, it’s never as bad as it seems. It’s also never as good as it seems”. Today’s quitters are tomorrows regretters. Don’t let summertime get you down. Sometimes the adage “when it rains it pours” should read “when it rains it hurricanes”. There’s an ebb and flow of church growth. Don’t allow the growth reports of others intimidate you. The best kind of growth is steady growth. We should strive for souls and church growth and even make it our number one priority, however getting someone talked into the water and prayed through is the easy part. What you do afterward in discipleship is the real challenge of church growth.
Finally…the best way to longevity in ministry is to establish your ministry in scripture. Let God talk to you every day from His Word. It’s a lamp to your feet (shows you where you are standing) and a light to your path (shows you where to go from here).
Rob McKee – Pastor
The Pentecostals of Katy
This article evolved from a conversation with my best friend (fellow Pastor MyRick Johnson). A few weeks ago, we met for lunch and were discussing “longevity in ministry”.